EEPA 2016 and beyond – The Rotterdam Business Case

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), provide a chance for many projects to gain recognition on a European stage across a variety of categories. During the selection process and the awards themselves, we get to meet all of these interesting projects and witness their winning moments, but what happens after the awards ceremony? What comes next for EEPA winners? Today on Promoting Enterprise we bring you the story of EEPA 2016 winner ‘The Rotterdam Business Case’, winner of theResponsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurshipcategory. Two years on and the Rotterdam Business Case is scaling up and looking to become a European Business Case, but how have they been working to scale up a successful project to support struggling entrepreneurs? Read on to find out…

Every country needs entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are ambitious, they take risks a  nd create most of the wealth, jobs, and prosperity in a nation. Who helps them however, when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? Who makes sure they have options like the customers they serve?

Economic Sustainability

The Rotterdam Business Case, founded in The Netherlands, provides help to struggling entrepreneurs. The project began with the initiation of a pilot in Rotterdam in 2012 to support entrepreneurs operating below the poverty line. The goal was simple; help entrepreneurs to help the economy! Or, in other words: “To increase income and economic sustainability by improving entrepreneurial skills and vision.” The pilot soon became a project – The Rotterdam Business Case – which since then has supported more than 800 entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam region  to get their enterprises back on track. In November 2016 The Rotterdam Business Case was awarded a European Enterprise Promotion Award in the category ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’. Since being awarded the project has been scaling up, in both the Netherlands and in Finland, where pilots are starting.

‘Young and Old is Gold’

The concept is based on a tripartite cooperation between the University of Applied Sciences, the City of Rotterdam and a foundation made up of successful retired entrepreneurs (OKB). The retired entrepreneurs act as senior coaches for the struggling entrepreneurs by providing  advice and mentoring to overcome obstacles and challenges. Their role is to encourage the struggling entrepreneur to regain control, (re-)captain their entrepreneurial ship and help draw up a re-start plan. The students from the University of Applied Sciences act as junior coaches, and provide practical assistance for the re-start (streamlining/sorting out the administration, drawing up a cost-calculation), drafting of reports to plan out the various aspects of the re-start (business plan or acquisition plan). This successful cooperative approach is described with the slogan ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

Triple Helix for win-win-win

The triple helix cooperation with education, entrepreneurship and government results in a win-win-win-situation on all sides. The university offers internships to students who can practically apply their theoretical knowledge (Win 1), the city/region support entrepreneurs to strengthen the regional/city economy (Win 2) and finally former entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to use and re-use their knowledge and experience to help entrepreneurs in need (Win 3). But the biggest Win of all is of course for the struggling entrepreneur who gets a fair chance to overcome problems and become successful again.

Scaling up in the Netherlands & beyond

Due to the project attracting interest of other cities and regions the founders of The Rotterdam Business Case decided to set up a new foundation: The Dutch Business Case for Entrepreneurs, with funding from a Dutch National Foundation (GAK). The newly formed foundation works with a ‘reversed franchise concept’. New Business Cases in other cities/regions receive methods, systems, support and a 25% subsidy on the condition that they work within the concept of The Rotterdam Business Case. So far six new projects and pilots have started in the cities of Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Eindhoven and the provinces of Friesland, Friesland and Drenthe, with discussions underway for additional cities and regions to start in 2018.

 

First European Step

In 2016 the concept received the EEPA prize, which provided a European ‘stamp of approval’ for the foundation. Since receiving the award, professionals, decision makers and politicians who are enthusiastic about the concept make reference to the EEPA recognition of the Rotterdam Case. This has also helped other cities and regions come forward with their own proposals for applying the concept in their individual contexts.

One of the first results from scaling up is the start of a Finnish project in the City of Tampere. The City, the University of Applied Sciences and a Foundation of Former Entrepreneurs started a partnership to assist first time entrepreneurs using the Rotterdam Concept. The experiences of tweaking a successful Dutch project into a successful Finnish project will be shared later this year so that other cities and regions in other countries can also profit from the concept of ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

For more information on the Rotterdam Business Case and project scale up activities, please contact r.gringhuis@rotterdam.nl

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